Monday, January 30, 2017

Gimme Danger (2016)

All Stooges fans will want to report immediately to this Jim Jarmusch documentary. Iggy Pop (nee James Osterberg, and "Jim" to a few of his old friends here) is featured prominently, of course, but there's very little about his solo career—David Bowie is just a glancing figure around the time of Raw Power, for example. Gimme Danger may contain a key clip from Velvet Goldmine, but it's a Stooges movie. And it's not bad. It's a reasonably thorough-going history of the band, going back to their origins as the Psychedelic Stooges and even before. It plumbs all their musical sources and influences—Harry Partsch was important, along with the Velvet Underground, John Coltrane, and others. Many of the people associated with the band have passed on now, some even while the film was being made: Dave Alexander, the original bassist, in 1975, both Asheton brothers more recently, and Steve Mackay too. Gimme Danger thus often feels like an elegy, and sad. I was hoping for more uninterrupted music, but even the steady nervous barrage of clips and images in and around talking heads interviews was often satisfying. I love these people and am interested in all they have to say. I had a feeling that the agenda of director and writer Jarmusch included making a case for Raw Power as the pinnacle. That's an argument I'm open to, though I'm more of a Fun House partisan. And I thought the shrift for Fun House was a little short overall here. But the famous scene of Iggy stair-stepping across the hands of fans at a show from that era is included, an iconic moment I always enjoy seeing. There's a long leap in the picture from Kill City, which came out circa '77, to the Stooges reunification (a term Iggy prefers to "reunion") in 2003 at Coachella. Fun fact you might know already: razor-sharp guitar player and producer James Williamson, Iggy's late Stooges collaborator, went on to make a career for himself in software in Silicon Valley after leaving the band. Stepping in for Ron Asheton at reunification appearances after Ron died in 2009 involved Williamson picking up a guitar for the first time in decades. This movie is full of great anecdotes, great pictures, and great music. It may possibly only be for Iggy and/or Stooges fans, but I liked it a lot in spite of my grumbling. I'm only grumbling because I want more. Do things like this ever come in "long" versions, with, like, extended concert footage? Fingers crossed for the DVD.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a Fun House guy, too. In my experience, though, real he-man hard rockers tend to prefer Raw Power or even the debut. I'd even agree w/ them that the hooks are bigger, more iconic, on both those records but they also like the bigger dumber trashier sound better as well and that's where we part ways. I love the knife-fight precision of Fun House.